An Amazon-sponsored billboard asking employees to return their union votes can be seen in Bessemer, Alabama on March 28, 2021.
Elijah Nouvelage | Getty Images
With more than two-thirds of the ballots counted, Amazon secured enough votes on Friday to defeat the union movement in one of its Alabama warehouses.
The National Labor Relations Board continues to count the ballots, but Amazon has exceeded the threshold necessary to claim an election victory. It had to get 1,608 votes against union formation, or just over 50% of the votes cast. Around 700 votes were in favor of joining the retail, wholesale and department store union.
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There are also roughly 500 challenged ballots that are not counted, the RWDSU confirmed to CNBC. Amazon challenged the ballot papers at a rate of almost 4: 1, the union added.
Amazon said it challenged about 300 ballots while about 200 ballots were challenged by the union. The company said most of the contested ballots were due to eligibility issues where ballots may have been submitted by people who left the company during the voting period. The NLRB informed CNBC that it would not publish the total number of contested ballots until after the count is complete.
News of the number of controversial ballots was first reported by Reuters.
The ballots could play a big role if the union can reclaim enough votes to determine where the contested ballots would affect the election result. The NLRB would then initiate legal proceedings to determine whether to count the contested ballots, which could take many days or weeks.
RWDSU is fighting to represent approximately 5,800 workers in the Amazon warehouse in Bessemer, Alabama known as BHM1. The union elections have become one of the most important organizing campaigns in recent history. Working groups have been closely monitoring the campaign in hopes that it will boost organizing efforts across the country in the face of years of decline in union membership in the private sector.
Regardless of the outcome, the losing side is expected to question the election results. RWDSU President Stuart Appelbaum signaled on Thursday that the union is already ready to take this step. Appelbaum called on the NLRB to investigate Amazon’s voting behavior, including allegations that it wrongly urged the U.S. Postal Service to install a mailbox in Bessemer’s warehouse.
“Our system is broken, Amazon has taken full advantage of it, and we will ask the labor authority to hold Amazon accountable for its illegal and outrageous behavior during the campaign,” said Appelbaum. “But make no mistake. This is still an important moment for the working people and their voices are heard.”
Amazon said it installed the mailbox for employee convenience and added that only the USPS would have access to the mailbox.
This story evolves. Refresh this page for updates.